It All Adds Up: Toppings and Extras to Avoid

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    Swap Out Ranch Dressing

    Get a tasty tang on your salad without unhealthy fat by using a vinaigrette dressing.  These are made from vinegar and oil. They have less unhealthy fat.

    At a restaurant, try the house or balsamic vinaigrette or classic Italian dressing. At home, get fancy with flavored vinegars like raspberry, pear, or lemon. To keep your heart happy, the key is to steer clear of creamy dressings.

    If you really want ranch, a serving is just 2 tablespoons. Fast-food dressing packets have double that, so be sure to measure out a portion.

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    Say No to Mayo

    Check out these healthier options:

    • Try mustard, any mustard. Want creamy? How about some dijon mustard?
    • Add 1/8 of an avocado on your sandwich. It's a creamy, healthy fat. Plus it has fiber, which makes you feel full longer.
    • Light cream cheese gives you the same smoothness with much less unhealthy fat.  Stick to 1 tablespoon.
    • Gotta have mayo? Use low-fat and 1 tablespoon or less.

     

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    Drop the Dried Fruits

    Crazy about dried cranberries, dried pineapple, or raisins on your salads? While this "fruit" may sound healthy, it can have unhealthy added sugar. Try fresh berries, apples, peaches -- or whatever fruit is in season. Fresh fruit doesn't have added sugar and gives you vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber.

    If you really want dried fruit, read the label and look for those without sugar or syrup on the ingredients list.

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    Wave Off Tortilla and Wonton Strips

    There's no nutrition in these crunchy toppings. But there can be plenty of calories and unhealthy fat, especially if you dump a lot on your salad.

    At home, make your own healthier version. Toast a small 100% corn tortilla in a dry skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side until slightly browned. Crumble the tortilla when it cools and sprinkle it on your salad. These crumbles have less unhealthy fat and fewer calories.

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    Avoid Extra Cheese

    When picking pizza, chili, or spaghetti, skip extra cheese. It adds 50-80 calories per slice of pizza. You'd have to walk a half hour just to burn off the extra cheese on two slices.

    Try: Veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and spinach instead. If you're making a pie at home, use part-skim, low-fat cheese. You can also add flavor (without adding unhealthy fat or calories) by using fresh or dried herbs or Italian seasoning.

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    Hold the Whipped Cream

    Whipped cream sounds good but it melts fast. You're left with little taste and a lot of extra calories. You'd have to shoot hoops for 30 minutes just to work off the whipped cream on top of a hot cocoa, latte, or sundae. So skip the whip and ask for cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder. It’ll kick up the flavor and make it fancy without all the extra calories.

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    Kick the Ketchup

    One tablespoon of everyone's fave condiment has 3.7 grams of sugar. A lot of that is natural sugar, but it's still not great for you. That's almost as much as a small chocolate chip cookie.

    That doesn't mean you have to eat your fries naked. Try dipping them in salsa, which has less sugar and has a serving of veggies. Or if you can't do without, have every third or fourth fry without ketchup.

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    Be Picky About Fro-yo Toppings

    Piling on cookies, candy, and fudge at the fro-yo or sundae bar can easily double your calories and unhealthy fat. Instead, choose fresh fruit (not sugary, syrupy fruit topping). Then add a spoonful of nuts for a blast of crunch and protein. Need a chocolate fix? Add just a teaspoon of sprinkles or mini chocolate chips.

    Spread them around so you get the chocolate but just a fraction of the calories and unhealthy fat you'd get from fudge.

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    Cut the Croutons

    Add crunch but skip empty calories in your salad by trying chopped vegetables, nuts, or seeds. There are tons of choices: almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, baked chickpeas, freeze-dried sugar snap peas, roasted soy nuts, or wasabi peas -- they offer protein, plus crunch!

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    Lighten Up Your Loaded Baked Potato

    Instead of piling on sour cream, add 1-2 tablespoons of nonfat plain Greek yogurt or reduced-fat cottage cheese to your potato. You'll get a lot more protein without the unhealthy fat.

    For delicious gooeyness, add a little salsa and some beans or vegetarian chili. Top with a sprinkling of reduced-fat cheddar.

    With veggies, protein, and dairy, one baked potato can be a complete meal!

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    Get Creative Instead of Queso

    There are much healthier choices for your nachos or chips. Salsa gives you veggies without the unhealthy fat of queso. But if you really want that cheesy dip:

    • At home, melt up some shredded low-fat cheddar cheese instead.
    • Or, when you’re out, mix half salsa, half queso to limit how much cheese you eat.

    And remember portion control. Eat just a handful of chips and 1/2 cup of the queso/salsa mix.

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